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Do Tax Amnesties Work? The Revenue Effects of Tax Amnesties during the Transition in the Russian Federation

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Abstract

Governments of all kinds have frequently and increasingly turned to tax amnesties as part of their fiscal programs. An amnesty typically allows individuals or firms to pay delinquent taxes without being subject to some or all of the financial and criminal penalties that the discovery of tax evasion normally brings. Tax amnesties are a controversial revenue-raising tool. Advocates emphasize the immediate and short-run revenue impact, and often argue that future tax revenues may increase if the amnesty induces individuals or corporations not on the tax rolls to participate, and if the amnesty is accompanied by more extensive taxpayer services, better education on taxpayer responsibilities, and, especially, stricter post-amnesty penalties for evaders and greater expenditures for enforcement. Critics contend that the actual experiences of many countries indicate that the immediate impact on revenues is almost always quite small. They also question the long-run revenue impact of a tax amnesty, especially if honest taxpayers resent the special treatment of tax evaders and if individuals come to believe that the amnesty is not simply a one-time opportunity. This paper discusses the multiple tax amnesties enacted in the Russian Federation during its main transition period of the 1990s and, especially, analyzes the impact of these amnesties on tax collections. We find that these amnesties had little short- or long-term impact on revenues. We conclude that the Russian amnesties, like most other amnesties, seem unlikely to have had significant positive – or negative – impacts on the revenues of the Russian Federation , a conclusion that calls into question their usefulness as a policy instrument.

Suggested Citation

  • James Alm & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Sally Wallace, 2007. "Do Tax Amnesties Work? The Revenue Effects of Tax Amnesties during the Transition in the Russian Federation," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0718, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  • Handle: RePEc:ays:ispwps:paper0718
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    1. Martinez-Vazquez, Jorge & McNab, Robert M., 2000. "The Tax Reform Experiment in Transitional Countries," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 53(2), pages 273-298, June.
    2. G. Alfandari & M.E. Schaffer, 1996. ""Arrears" in the Russian Enterprise Sector," CERT Discussion Papers 9608, Centre for Economic Reform and Transformation, Heriot Watt University.
    3. Alm, James & Beck, William, 1993. "Tax Amnesties and Compliance in the Long Run: A Time Series Analysis," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 46(1), pages 53-60, March.
    4. Martinez-Vazquez, Jorge & McNab, Robert M., 2000. "The Tax Reform Experiment in Transitional Countries," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(n. 2), pages 273-98, June.
    5. Jeffrey A. Dubin & Michael J. Graetz & Louis L. Wilde, 1992. "State Income Tax Amnesties: Causes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 1057-1070.
    6. Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Mark Rider & Sally Wallace, 2008. "Tax Reform in Russia," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 2368.
    7. Fisher, Ronald C. & Goddeeris, John H. & Young, James C., 1989. "Participation in Tax Amnesties: The Individual Income Tax," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 42(1), pages 15-27, March.
    8. Alm, James & McKee, Michael J. & Beck, William, 1990. "Amazing Grace: Tax Amnesties and Compliance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 43(1), pages 23-37, March.
    9. Stella, Peter, 1991. "An economic analysis of tax amnesties," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 383-400, December.
    10. Alm, James & McKee, Michael J. & Beck, William, 1990. "Amazing Grace: Tax Amnesties and Compliance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 43(1), pages 23-37, March.
    11. Fisher, Ronald C. & Goddeeris, John H. & Young, James C., 1989. "Participation in Tax Amnesties: The Individual Income Tax," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 42(1), pages 15-27, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mokhtari, Manouchehr & Ashtari, Mamak, 2012. "Understanding tax reform in the Central Asian Republics," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 168-178.
    2. James, Simon & Edwards, Alison, 2010. "An annotated bibliography of tax compliance and tax compliance costs," MPRA Paper 26106, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Do Tax Amnesties; the Russian Federation; Russia; tax evasion;

    JEL classification:

    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General

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